Robert Mapplethorpe, the homosexual photographer whose work helped spark a controversy over government funding of the arts, has left $1.3 million to the two hospitals that treated him for AIDS.
Beth Israel Medical Center in New York received $1 million and New England Deaconess Hospital in Boston received $300,000, it was announced Monday.
Mapplethorpe died of AIDS a year ago at the age of 42.
"Robert Mapplethorpe's legacy as an artist is well established," said Michael Stout, president of the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation. "This gift is his legacy as a caring human being who wanted to make life more bearable for people with AIDS."
After his death, Mapplethorpe's works, along with those of artist Andres Serrano, ignited a firestorm when Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) objected to government funding of an art show entitled "The Perfect Moment," a Mapplethorpe retrospective that included photographs depicting gay couples and sadomasochistic images in addition to his trademark shots of flowers and celebrities.
The Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C. canceled the show in response to pressure from Helms and other congressmen, after which several Corcoran board members resigned and artists pulled out of Corcoran shows to protest the cancellation.
Eventually, Corcoran president Christina Orr-Cahall was forced to resign, and Congress passed a ban keeping the National Endowment for the Arts from funding art deemed "obscene." The ban expires September 30.